They're Not Whining: Man Flu Actually Exists


"Man flu" refers to the idea that men may exaggerate the symptoms of a minor illness, such as a cold.

For example, a 2008 study found that women had a stronger immune response to the flu vaccine, meaning they produced greater levels of antibodies against the virus strains in the vaccine, compared with men. However, in a new review published in The British Medical Journal, Dr. Kyle Sue made a decision to delve deeper into the scientific literature in order to find out the truth of this matter and the reasons behind it. Sue is the author of the review and a clinical assistant professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada.

However, men may now rest their case as a most recent study conducted by a researcher from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada appears to support the existence of the dreaded man flu scientifically.

The study also notes that research from the U.S. showed men had higher rates of deaths linked to flu compared to women of the same age, while data from Hong Kong shows men had a higher risk of winding up in hospital with seasonal flu than women.

His study, published in the December 11 issue of the journal BMJ, finds that men suffered more severe symptoms than women and that women's hormones may soften the blow of the illness.

"Perhaps now is the time for male-friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of "man flu" in safety and comfort". "That's how the term "man flu" became so commonly used internationally, regardless of differences in culture", he said. In one of the mouse studies Sue managed to pull out, it was revealed that testosterone could dampen a male's response to influenza while the female's sex hormones can boost it. "[But] from my clinical work, personal experiences and my social circles, I've seen men suffer worse from colds and flus".

In other words, there's a plethora of scientific studies out there suggesting that men are not "wimps".

In Australia, health experts said this year's flu shot was only 10 percent effective against the virus there.

"Medically treating both genders exactly the same will do both genders a disservice", Sue said. "So men with higher testosterone actually end up being more susceptible to viral respiratory and tend to get them worse". He wasn't involved with the review. "Much more work needs to be done to figure out whether differences exists and, if so, what biological mechanisms might explain them".